Election Day Notes From Tokyo

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The Oracular Email

I first watched Barack Obama at the 2004 Democratic National Convention and immediately I emailed a friend and wrote, “Did you hear this Obama guy? He’s going to be president.” I don’t know if I really believed that. But he was the kind of stirring unifying figure the country needed, that even then we were starving for. I certainly didn’t think he would be president this soon. When he decided to run for president two years ago, I thought it was premature. I didn’t think he could prevail against Democratic heavyweights like Hillary Clinton. Even if he got nominated I felt there was no way that he could survive the nasty invective of Republican electoral tactics.


This guy would have to be perfect.
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The Perfect Candidate

It reminds me of the movie, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. It’s about how a white woman brings home her black boyfriend, played by Sidney Poitier, to dinner to meet her family. Her parents, played by Hepburn and Tracy, are socially liberal but excruciate over the hardship their daughter would have to experience in a mixed-race marriage. As if the whole thing is their choice.

Poitier’s character is perfect, a well-educated, internationally-respected, humanitarian doctor. And handsome to boot. As well as well-mannered and deferential. There was nothing that they could criticize him about. Yet they excruciated until the end. By the end, I was wondering why such a distinguished and accomplished man would bother with an undistinguished white woman and her annoying family. Of course, the movie was just a parable of the impossibly high double standards placed on black folks.

That’s what Barack has had to do, present a flawless image (never got angry), have impeccable credentials (first in his Harvard law class), and raise a storybook family. As the campaign progressed, I became increasingly impressed with the discipline, focus, savvy, and hard work of his operation. Everyone writes about how his campaign used the internet and cell phones so deftly, but more remarkable is the massive work on the ground by volunteers. He was able to mobilize the largest campaign organization ever. That’s a good sign of an able leader.

Observations from Japan
I’ve been following the elections from Japan. It’s late night in the US, but it’s a beautiful sunny Wednesday afternoon in Tokyo. I’m still old enough to be amazed at how I can cover events so closely on the other side of the Pacific through the internet.

I’ve been watching ABC News’ coverage live, only because CNN doesn’t stream outside the US. And after watching for a few hours, all i can think of is that Sam Donaldson looks like a Romulan. I’ve been tracking election results through the CNN and New York Times web sites, able to follow the demographic minutiae of the voters. I love the internet! Continue reading